With the AIS Arena out of action for the foreseeable future, the need for a medium-sized indoor stadium to cater for WNBL, netball and volleyball has emerged as an urgent priority.
If there is no indoor stadium catering to 3000 to 4000 sports fans, the Canberra community will be the loser.
The AIS Arena is far more than a ‘sporting venue’. Practically every secondary school student coming through the Canberra education system has had a graduation or other school-related event at the Arena. It has proven to be a multi-purpose facility.
The UC Capitals’ ability to host WNBL finals will be severely hampered without a medium-sized indoor stadium, as will Canberra’s capacity to host Netball Super League games.
There is nothing to take its place at the moment, which is why a new medium-sized stadium should be a priority for the ACT Government.
If it has to spend money on refurbishing the AIS Arena, so be it, but the ownership issue needs to be resolved.
If this doesn’t happen then other options need to be explored.
There have been several proposals over the years, including a stadium adjacent to the ACT Netball Centre at Lyneham and a medium-sized stadium at the University of Canberra.
With the need for an indoor arena emerging as a priority, it has possibly overtaken the proposed Civic Stadium in terms of need.
This week another study into a 25,000-seat stadium for league, union and football games was released and surprise, surprise, it found the site of the Civic Olympic Pool was the preferred option over EPIC.
I would have thought that was already locked in.
I find the whole exercise quite perplexing. Under the original timetable, the stadium was to have been completed by 2020.
Understandably, there have been delays because of the financial strain of Mr Fluffy, the light rail, bushfires and now COVID-19. If the Government sees the need for a 3000 to 4000-seat stadium as a priority, it will push the Civic Stadium even further back. This will make things interesting for the Raiders and the Brumbies with the ageing disposition of Canberra Stadium.
What is needed is a solid plan for sporting facilities in the ACT.
The way things are going, I am struggling to envisage the Raiders or the Brumbies playing in a new indoor stadium in my lifetime.